Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 31, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read in your Oct. 24 report on the Le Conte Neighborhood Association mayoral debate that Mayor Bates said allowing high-rise buildings to abut small residences is a problem created by the city’s faulty zoning laws. If he really thinks that’s a problem, why in the past four years why has he done nothing to fix it? 

Why hasn’t he taken an active role in pressuring developers to scale back proposed apartment blocks that would loom over neighboring homes, such as Hudson McDonald’s blockbuster at University and MLK? Why didn’t he vote against any of them when they came before the City Council? The truth is Bates has actively promoted such development by proposing and supporting changes to the general plan and zoning code, supporting the city attorney’s creative, developer-friendly readings of state law, and appointing pro-growth, anti-preservation commissioners. The report also says Bates claimed that 300 low-income units were built during his term in office. In his campaign mailer, he goes further, claiming “more than 500 units of below-market rate housing” approved on his watch. Reality check: Those are roughly number of units that are officially “inclusionary” by law, but since the law defines low income relative to the median for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, almost all of them are rented at market rates. 

The truth is that most below-market-rate housing in Berkeley exists thanks to rent control. The changes Bates favors to the zoning, landmarks, and condo conversion laws would tend to promote development that would displace low-income renters in favor of high-income owners. They would also tend to remake Berkeley in the image of Emeryville. 

Robert Lauriston 

South Berkeley, District 3 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was wrong. I thought the Chamber of Commerce’s hit piece about Measure J would be slick and utterly truth-free. Instead it was childish, sleazy and truth-free. 

It is interesting that the brief structure of merit designation of the building that houses Celia’s Mexican Restaurant has garnered such intense ridicule. 

City Council overturned the designation almost immediately. So the developers won. The amount of whining generated by the fleeting recognition of this building’s history is truly astounding. 

Does anyone think that such vicious, ceaseless ridicule would be inflicted on a building that housed an expensive French restaurant, or any other establishment frequented by the wealthy? 

Such mean-spirited elitism is shocking. This is Berkeley, after all. At least it was—has it been renamed Developers R Us yet? 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

To Cal students and staff: This is your chance to help support public education by voting yes on Berkeley’s Measure A in the upcoming election. Measure A is known as BSEP. There is no doubt that the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project (BSEP) has been a boon to our schools. As a public school teacher and principal (retired), I know first-hand about the success of smaller class sizes, the pleasure of sufficient books, maps, materials, and the joy of enrichment programs in science, P.E., and music.  

Yet BSEP influences Berkeley beyond the school day. For example: we are the home of one of the greatest universities in the world. When UC Berkeley tries to recruit top-notch young professors and instructors, one of the first questions candidates ask is, “How are the local public schools?” These are professors and instructors who not only buy our real estate and use our businesses and services—they attract students who do the same.  

This example may seem rather simplistic, but it is my way of having you support BSEP, Measure A in the November election.  

It is our responsibility as the supportive generations to see that our students flourish educationally. We don’t all have children, grandchildren, or kids we know using our public schools, but there is a kid in public school now who will touch our future.  

Children have the responsibility to learn. We as taxpaying citizens have the responsibility to renew Measure A. Then it is perfectly OK to say to a kid, “As a taxpayer, I am paying dearly for your education. Go to school, behave yourself, and learn.”  

It will make you feel good, our schools will get better and better, and as public schools supporters we can say we are doing our best. Vote yes on Measure A! Thank you. 

Marian Altman  

Board Member, Berkeley  

Public Education Foundation  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is a call to action to the progressive community to volunteer or donate, to join Nancy Nadel, Dolores Huerta, Keith Carson, the Oakland Education Association, the Central Labor Council, the California Nurses Association, the Sierra Club Wilson Riles and more to stand together to elect Aimee Allison to City Council, District 2 in Oakland with the same passion and vigor that we elected Ron Dellums in June. Oakland’s future stands in the balance. 

Join me with the passion that many of you have stood beside me to create the vision that Education Not Incarceration represents—a society that is integrated and just; a society that respects the earth and its people, a society that understands and prioritizes the voices and lives of our youth. This campaign represents a significant opportunity to assure that our City Council can speak with vision and action to breathe life into a city whose people are too often suffering deeply under the weight of poverty and racism, lacking quality education, health care, and economic opportunity. 

Oakland is in a powerful balancing point. We can become an integrated city with a vision for environmentally sustainable lifestyle and an equitable accessible economy; or we can become city run by and for the rich, where poor and young people are increasingly pushed out of our city, into prison or other communities. 

For more information on how you can get involved go to or stop by the office at 3208 Grand Ave. (two doors from Grand Lake Theater). 277-0182. 

Jonah Zern 

Program Coordinator for Education  

Not Incarceration 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Both candidates for Berkeley City Council, District 7 are smart, energetic, articulate, committed and compassionate. Yet only George Beier can move this city beyond negative rhetoric, stereotyping labels and destructive sniping towards constructive action, partnership and real, meaningful progress. 

Berkeley is distinguished by its informed, opinionated, passionate citizens. But too many seem only interested in labeling and complaining versus listening and doing. Don’t get me wrong: we need agitators to stir things up and keep it lively. But we desperately need more visionary “doers”—especially in our city government.  

After multiple debates, I still haven’t heard a coherent, strategic, and comprehensive vision for our city from Kriss. Sure, I know who and what he’s against but not what he stands for or, more importantly, how he is going to make those things happen.  

Defining oneself by one’s enemies is clever politics. It works especially well in rigid, divisive ideological environments like Berkeley, Baghdad and the Beltway. Finger pointing and a litany of politically correct statements, positions and endorsements create strong ideological labels, sound bytes and political theater but contribute little to solving our city’s most pressing issues. Remove the simplistic, convenient jargon and the question remains: Who’s Kriss and why’s he more qualified than George to create real, substantive progress in Berkeley?  

Berkeley needs more doers, visionaries, leaders—and less ideological, adolescent whiners. We need mature candidates who flexibly, creatively and constructively collaborate. We need imperfect pragmatists like George Beier rather then more perfect but ineffective ideologues.  

Beier has proven effectiveness beyond the bombastic realm of politics in business and non-profits. In the debates I’ve witnessed, he’s shown wit, compassion, pragmatism and vision. He has laid out a multi-point plan and vision ( to address everything from crime to homelessness to revitalizing Telegraph Avenue. More importantly, George seems capable of working respectfully and maturely with other City Council members to advance an agenda of constructive change and real progress. 

Kriss has had 10 years to “progress” the city forward yet our most pressing issues—schools, housing, crime, homelessness, housing, business retention, etc.—remain stuck in ideological quagmires. How “progressive” is that?  

Everyone talks about a better future, but few can make the hard choices, sacrifices and compromises to create real change and sustained progress. George Beier is capable of such leadership and deserves the support of District 7. 

Charles Banks-Altekruse 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Over the past six weeks I have attended three public events featuring question and answer sessions with District 7 candidates George Beier and Kriss Worthington. I have come away convinced that George Beier has, in addition to genuine progressive credentials, the intelligence, creativity and temperament we need in Berkeley’s elected leadership.  

I am equally sure that Kriss Worthington offers the wrong approach to the challenges facing our city. He consistently alienates and vilifies any individual, group or institution that doesn’t share his point of view. He pits tenants against landlords and residents against the university. He treats local business owners as if they were Halliburton and Enron. The negative consequences of Worthington’s approach to “leadership” are glaringly evident in District 7. If Worthington had spent his time in office bringing stakeholders together rather than splitting the world into us and them, our community could have stopped the decline of Telegraph and reduced criminal activity years ago.  

In contrast, George Beier offers an end to divisive stalemate politics. Among “Beier Progressives” in the Bateman, Halcyon, LeConte and Willard neighborhoods, there is genuine enthusiasm for his results-oriented campaign of ideas, and gratitude that George, when attacked by Worthington, consistently takes the high road, declines to respond in kind, and stays focused on facts, problem-solving and his hopeful vision for District 7.  

As a 17-year resident of Berkeley I believe that George Beier’s candidacy offers a tremendous opportunity for our city that even the most committed Worthington supporters will recognize after George takes office. George listens and responds thoughtfully to all. He is guided by a positive vision of community-building and revitalization, not a political litmus test.  

David Cottle 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Board of Education can declare a “Fiscal Emergency” for “unforseen financial events” (Measure A, Section 6.H.) They did this in two of the last four years and gave all school administrators a 15 percent pay raise. Superintendent Michelle Lawrence now enjoys a $230,000 salary and received an additional interest-free $300,000 loan from the district. All this during a “Fiscal Emergency.” Measure A has just such a Fiscal Emergency clause. 

While the School Board deserves adequate funding and flexibility, I would like to see some measurable improvement in the classroom—some little bang for our buck, any sign that we’re not just flushing more big green ones down the toilet. Remember, our children (the ones who are doing so poorly in our schools) are supposed to graduate and PAY taxes. Taxes like Measure A that go up and up every year. (Section 4.C.) 

The mere fact that we keep voting for these mistakes should expose the sham we affectionately call “public education.” 

P. Wooton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you read only one thing about the Albany City Council election, please consider the neutral “Election Code Section 9212” report on the Albany Shoreline Initiative, available on the City of Albany website: Although the courts pulled the Initiative for election law violations of proper notice to voters, many of the substantive issues live on in the public debate.  

What really matters in this election? Most of us want council members who will be competent and trustworthy consumers of legal, technical and financial information on city affairs. But as the Sec. 9212 report shows, the Initiative carried serious legal flaws threatening costly, unproductive trauma for Albany. The initiative apparently violated basic provisions of Albany’s Charter regarding City Council powers and responsibilities, as well as federal Constitutional protections for due process. As the report plaintively reminded, “the law is settled that the City may not simply pass a law, by initiative or otherwise, that requires a private property owner to dedicate any land for public access, open space or use, without paying the owner fair market value.”  

I keep waiting for candidates Joanne Wile and Marge Atkinson to say something like this: “We still want minimal waterfront development, but we realize the Initiative didn’t go about it in a lawful manner.” I could support that, but I haven’t heard it yet. I feel more heat than light coming from the Wile/Atkinson camp, which concerns me greatly. 

Lisa Schneider 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am not in favor of large-scale development at Albany’s waterfront. I am opposed to any new gambling activities at Golden Gate Fields. I find that I can’t support the two Sierra Club backed Albany City Council candidates, Marge Atkinson and Joanne Wile. I say this, not because of the Sierra Club’s endorsement, but rather because of Wile’s and Atkinson’s apparent uncritical endorsement of Sierra Club polices. There are numerous instances where Sierra Club policies have been a poor fit for Albany. 

The Sierra Club supports intense urban infill development that could threaten Albany’s small-town ambiance. The Sierra Club strongly supported the condominium development in El Cerrito Plaza.  

The Sierra Club’s preservationist policies often make open space areas completely off limits to people. Last year, the Sierra Club hijacked the environmental process for the Berkeley sports fields to add a fenced off habitat area at Albany’s plateau. The Sierra Club initially proposed fencing off the entire plateau. The City of Berkeley rejected this as being too generous, but still half the plateau will forever be off limits to any kind of public use.  

In the past, the Sierra Club has actually supported increased gambling activities at Golden Gate Fields. In 1996, the Sierra Club sponsored an agreement with the racetrack owner that would have circumvented the normal CEQA review process and allowed the owner to build a 125,000 square foot card room at the track.  

Maybe most importantly, the Sierra Club, at least the local chapter, seems disinterested in and maybe incapable of engaging in a collaborative decision-making process. This was evident in the proposed Shoreline Protection Initiative. Billed as a “citizens’ planning process,” the initiative actually would have set in place the key planning parameters without any public planning, without any public discussion. The initiative also proposed to create a committee to implement the already established parameters, but then packed the committee with representatives of private environmental corporations and local environmental groups no one has heard of. 

Albany is a very small town in the midst of a large metropolitan area. We face a myriad of unique challenges. We don’t need single-issue ideologues. We need smart, independent thinkers. It does not appear that either Ms. Wile or Ms. Atkinson posses these qualities. 

Clay Larson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

About 25 years ago I swung a pick in People’s Park to tear up the asphalt parking lot which the university had installed against popular opinion. It felt good and right to unpave paradise. A quarter century later the park has become the third rail of city politics; none of our elected officials have the guts to confront it, yet few students or long term residents feel comfortable using it. People do vote with their feet. No wonder—this paper reports that university garden staff collected 1,000 needles there in eight months. 

I admire my neighbor, George Beier’s, willingness to engage with both the university and current park users in a non-adversarial manner. What a contrast to our career politicians who refuse to take a meaningful position on anything to do with the park. I first met George while working on the revitalization of Willard Park about 15 years ago. I admired his optimism and hard working spirit. The tot lot we built at Willard has been jammed from day one. Willard hosts families, students, dogs without leashes and people without homes. While a few blocks away, People’s Park has acquired a reputation as little more than a drop in center and shooting gallery. People’s Park will not live up to it’s name nor its promise until all of us choose to spend time there. Hurrah for George Beier for sticking his neck out! Berkeley needs more council members who are unafraid to shake things up. 

Jim Rosenau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have attended two public District 7 forums where I heard George Beir address the future with innovative solutions while Kris Worthington spoke of the past. Now to gain footage Kris has taken the personal attack mode to denigrate George rather than presenting his plans. Despite this George has stayed the course on the high road continuing to address the central issues that affect our daily lives—transportation, Peoples Park, affordable housing, UCB relationship, homeless housing, and the highest Berkeley crime rate. I want thoughtful representation and see that in George Beir. 

Joe Halperin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A few words in regards to Becky O’Malley’s editorial (“Lets Celebrate Progress in South Campus Business Climate,” Oct. 27), much of which I agree with, some of which I disagree with.  

First of all: Mark Weinstein, owner of Amoeba Records, is one of the most respected merchants on Telegraph. O’Malley’s characterization of Weinstein as sort of a former-hippie-turned-opportunistic-self-serving-yuppie is hardly accurate. In the 15 years that I’ve been on the Telegraph scene, Weinstein has long been a calm, voice-of-reason amidst the warring factions that is the on-going merchants-versus-street-people war. In fact, Weinstein has contributed considerably, financial and spiritual, to many People’s Park concerts, as well as assisting numerous individual street people (I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning this, because he’s a bit of a soft touch and I don’t want to encourage more of these bums to hit up on him). It is precisely because of this respect that Weinstein’s words of warning have more resonance than some of the other strident and screeching voices on the scene. I do, however, agree with the general premise of O’Malley’s editorial. Like it or not, Berkeley is in fact a direct product of the ’60s counterculture and its values. And perhaps it is slightly hypocritical for the record stores making money selling records by drugged-out rock stars, the books stores selling books by authors who romanticize their legendary drug use, and tattoo-parlors that celebrate trendy youth rebellion to be casting stones at the anti-social behavior of many of the street people, many of whom are the end results of these products. One letter-writer went on to point out “....the ’60s was nothing but a bad experiment that failed.” Which may be true. But compared to what? A failed mainstream culture filled with the worst kind of exploitive corporate predators, and a war machine that is wasting billions in Iraq? 

I will add this: For years I’ve heard people talk about “the street people” on Telegraph in the most banal black-or-white terms. Victims or trouble-makers. When in fact its both. Many of the Telegraph street people are seriously damaged people who need help (I should know, occassionally I’ve been one of them). But its also true that many of them are trouble-making, do-nothing bums who wish to contribute nothing to society while leeching off the labor of others. My question to Becky O’Malley is: What’s to be done about them? Aside from Berkeley’s legendary “tolerance.”  

Ace Backwords 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If this planet of ours has a ghost of a chance for survival, the American psyche has to learn to court simplicity. Last Monday, at Al Gore’s inspiring talk on Prop. 87 and global warming in Martin Luther King Park, Berkeley missed an opportunity to shine the spotlight on one who models environmental action. Daily, Councilmember Kriss Wor-thington consciously steps on the pedals of his bicycle instead of the gas pedal of an automobile, as he makes his way through town. Kriss doesn’t even own a car! Even his apartment doesn’t exceed the minimum daily requirements for living space (not very lucrative for developers, who have been enjoying a heyday in this country since 9/11). Kriss, now up for re-election, is somewhat of a hybrid thinker/politician, understanding that downsizing may be an adjunct to our very survival. 

Al Gore also is a bit of a hybrid, and often looks to hybrid solutions to our oil and transport problems. And while these are certainly steps in the right direction, they may overlook certain important considerations related to global warming and the health of the planet and its populations. My concern is that the impact on the atmosphere of emr, or electromagnetic radiation (which includes microwave emissions from cell phone antennas), is often left out of the equation. Man-made emr throws more electrons into the atmosphere, creating more lightening and green house gases (Parrot). Emr also has a way of resonating, changing the structure of the magnetosphere in its wake (Helliwell). Such changes ultimately are reflected back into trees, compromising a mainstay of our carbon reducing capacity. (Fraser-Smith). Stanford is way ahead of UC Berkeley on this one, Folks! Could this be because the Berkeley National Lab is largely funded by the DOE, which also funds microwave weapons research? I strongly support the work that Al Gore is doing, and certainly support Kriss Worthington’s efforts for our city and our planet. To bring to the attention of Gore other elements of global warming that still need to be considered, please write to: The Honorable Al Gore, 2100 West End Avenue, Suite 620, Nashville, TN 37203. Please don’t forget to vote yes on 87! In the meantime, give priority to bicycles on the road! 

Kate Bernier 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While many landmark preservationists have a genuine concern for the historical, cultural, architectural, or educational significance of Berkeley’s buildings and neighborhoods, there are also those who see the Landmark Preservation Ordinance as a means of restricting further development. That’s the job of the Planning Department and ZAB. It’s not a legitimate function of the LPO, and its past abuse for that purpose—the attempt to landmark undeserving structures only to prevent new construction in their place—has damaged the public regard for the LPO. Measure J unfortunately reflects the goals of the obstructionists over those of legitimate preservationists. If you read part of J (page BEM—25 of your voter information pamphlet) you will see that a structure may be designated a Berkeley landmark even if it fails to meet the criteria for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources, or even if it has “lost its historic character or appearance.” In other words, almost any old structure in Berkeley, however altered it may be, can be used to prevent or delay a land use project. The revision of the LPO embodied in Measure J is an excessive attempt to control what Berkeley property owners may or may not do with their land. A more reasonable revision can be found. Please vote no on J. 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I recently received a mailing from Golden Gate Fields containing a particularly vicious attack on two of our Albany City Council candidates, threatening financial ruin for the city if we dare to vote for them. This Albany voter, for one, does not appreciate businesses that attempt to influence local elections by using bullying tactics. 

I don’t buy their line that our choice is between large-scale development on the waterfront or bankruptcy. We need city councilmembers who will work for the kind of mix of open space and development that will be best for our overall, long-term quality of life. 

I believe Marge Atkinson and Joanne Wile will work toward that goal, and they deserve our support. 

Mark Maslow 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Like Dan Quayle, Congressman Foley’s difficulties with the English language have been tragically distorted by the media. Who is really at fault? Those charity magazine ads incessantly admonishing us: “You can help this child, or you can turn the page.” 

Albert Schnitzler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I was a boy, I delivered newspapers in my hometown. This summer, as a research assistant with UC Berkeley, I studied the very real effects of global warming. One hundred percent of all scientific papers published in the last decade conclude that climate change is a real and important issue; we must address it immediately. Thanks to Prop. 87, we are given the chance to create a brighter, healthier future and a more stable economy.  

Take a stand for our economy, our health and our future! As fossil fuels burn,  

• California’s debts to China pile up.  

• Preventable diseases like asthma and lung cancer are on the rise.  

• Climate change threatens our coastal cities.  

This is not a political issue. This is an urgent moral issue, and we have the power to make a difference. 

With no cost to the public, and a very lenient, flexible cost to oil producers, we have the choice: 

• To bring cheaper, clean, renewable energy to the entire state now!  

• Or not to bother…  

This is also an economic issue. We import most of our oil from unstable areas like the Middle East and Venezuela where the governments and not the citizens benefit from the oil industry. I’ve just returned from Venezuela, one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, where three quarters of the people live in poverty. 

To pay for this foreign oil, the United States sells bonds to countries like China. Fact: Because of our dependence on foreign oil, China has unprecedented control over the US economy. If China were to sell all U.S. bonds it owns, the U.S. economy would be in danger of collapsing. 

We stand on the brink of a perilous path toward economic and political instability and environmental catastrophe. And yet, the solution is simple: yes on Prop. 87! Here is a well-written, fair and proactive step toward solving our current environmental and economic problems.  

Prop. 87 will cost nothing to voters; in fact, it is designed to save us all money at the pump. Nobody wants to pay more at the pump! Prop. 87 will ensure cleaner, cheaper fuel that will drive gas prices down and benefit us all.  

On Nov. 7, the future of our economy, our health and our environment rests in the hands of California voters. Vote to empower yourself. You can make a difference. 

Gavin Hudson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I simply can’t stand by while Mayor Tom Bates’ uninformed opponents blame him for the worst developments in town. Many of us are distressed over the construction of unsightly, hulking buildings along our major arterials. A truly objectionable building like the chintzy, cardboard-appearing apartments at Acton and University was approved by that dedicated champion of for-profit development, the former mayor Shirley Dean. I opposed it. She actively encouraged it. Tom Bates had nothing to do with it.  

Everyone wants the downtown to prosper. Tom Bates has successfully attracted development to the downtown, where new housing belongs, because it is served by an array of mass transit and will enhance Berkeley’s economic climate. Thanks to Mayor Bates’ leadership, a citizen’s committee, in concert with UC, is shaping how best that growth should occur. 

Why is it so important that we have new, quality housing? Berkeley’s population has dropped significantly over recent decades while housing costs have skyrocketed beyond the reach of our workforce (our teachers, librarians, nurses—not to mention artists, musicians, and craftspeople). Faced with having to buy our homes now, many of us could not afford them.  

Though Berkeley now has fewer people, we have many more cars. People who work and study in Berkeley are forced to commute from elsewhere, driving through our neighborhoods, along our small streets, degrading our environment and theirs by dependence on the polluting automobile. We all know that this unhealthy pattern is ultimately unsustainable.  

One way to address the problem is to secure permanently affordable housing for those who work and study in Berkeley. That housing must be well-designed both for its residents and for its neighbors. Tom Bates understands this. He understands the need for healthy, well-planned growth that will benefit all of our citizens. He doesn’t just say “no.” He embraces “yes,” which is why he gets my vote on Nov. 7. 

Linda Maio 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is the season of mild temperatures and wild color. Autumn brings to mind the upcoming anniversary of the loss of sculptor, Ishmael Rodriguez, and I want the world to remember this fascinating artist. He’s never far from my thoughts and heart. In his brilliant way, he contributed much insight to the creative discourse. He came up from the streets of West Oakland to do great things. His imperfections were the soil I grew flowers of knowledge from. I give myself credit for enabling him to live a full life, despite obstructive forces from the California legal system. 

Ishmael went to Woodstock in 1991 and became a real New Yorker in spirit, the New York spirit that’s redeeming, although he never wanted to be buried in New York. I made sure I brought him home to the place of his many dreams, aspirations and fulfillment—Northern California. He said in November, two days before I lost him, “if it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead a long time ago.” 

Ishmael saw it as almost a crime for creativity to go unacknowledged. He was a challenge— he represented a different point of view from certain aspects of Anglo culture because of his experience, mentality, and the fact that he transcended his background in significant ways, as a real artist would. He etched an imprint on history and I pay tribute to this prolific and generous Puerto Rican artist. He lives forever through his inspiring artwork; his life and work were gifts. Thank you, Ishmael. Adios. 

Glenda “GG” Wasserman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a huge struggle going on in the nation, the state and locally over the corrosive and corrupting influence of money on the political process and on democracy itself. On the national level, corporate domination of government policy both foreign and domestic has led and is leading to ever more tragic results, from wars of aggression causing untold death and destruction to prescription drug programs that benefit wealthy corporate pharmaceutical and insurance interests instead of the public.  

On the state level Proposition 89 offers us an opportunity to curtail the dominance of corporate wealth on the electoral process by publicly funding candidates to elective office. This, of course, would constitute a great stride in the direction of democratizing the political arena. 

Locally, I’d like to draw your attention to the District 7 race here in Berkeley where the convergence of personal wealth of one candidate and the economic clout of the Chamber of Commerce have combined to create a dramatically unlevel playing field that is threatening to make a mockery of our local attempts at campaign finance reforms. If money can trump tireless service, dedication, honesty, experience and results, we are all in serious trouble. 

Kriss Worthington has emerged over his 10 years of service on the Council as a voice of conscience and an advocate for those who have the fewest economic resources. He supports and amplifies the voice of neighborhoods as they struggle for the means of improving the quality of life for all. He has been and continues to be an ardent supporter of small businesses and working people. He is a stickler for following the letter and the spirit of laws, especially those that protect us all from the whims of the powerful and wealthy. I urge you to return Kriss Worthington to his seat on the Berkeley City Council so that he may continue his work on your behalf. 

Max Anderson 

Berkeley City Council District 3 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s no surprise that once you even suggest adding up the total number of dollars extorted by landlords every month, year, and decade—these parasites start having nightmares of communist revolution. 

While campaigning, I once expressed my astonishment at the injustice of the renter’s plight to a landlord, who then exclaimed, “but that’s my income!” No, it’s not. That’s someone else’s income stolen for you by the landlord establishment’s thugs. But without the lawyers and cops prepared to throw a poor renter and her belongings onto the street, how would our dear landlords “survive”!? They would not, and that is my purpose. 

Search hard, ye defenders of landlordism, for the reason hundreds of apartments and storefronts sit empty while those sleeping on the street are kicked to death and jailed. You will find no human cause. Only bacterial lust for cash. And for those who retain principle and intelligence, search even harder for a leftist group that dares point the finger at these twenty-first century lords. There are none! 

Without the landlord’s police whip, no renter would hand over the bulk of their earnings to a lazy punishing leech. And with all that extra money, she sure could work less and care for her children better. “As a property owner,” John Parman and his larcenist lord-buddies all over Berkeley sure wouldn’t take kindly to their “property” keeping the money she earns each month. And they will spend every dollar they’ve stolen making sure that never happens. By any means necessary.  

Oh yes, and these politics are founded in principle, mathematics, and common sense justice. Not belief. What’s backing up your landlord racket? Violence, of course.  

Christian Pecaut 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sierra Club members are proud of our democratic traditions: including participation in local, state and national politics, and our history as the oldest, largest, democratic environmental organization. Among many other achievements, club members’ political activism helped create our first national parks, including Yosemite. On a local and state level: we helped create the Eastshore State Park and helped to pass Albany’s Measure C, which gives ultimate control of its waterfront to Albany voters. 

There are those in Albany, ironically including a candidate for city council, who would end representation for the roughly 700 Sierra Club members in Albany. 

Francesco Papalia, who supports a multi-millionaire, Bush-allied, mega-mall developer wanting to build on the Albany shoreline, says in his Daily Planet candidate statement (Oct. 27) that the Sierra Club and other membership organizations should get “no representation without taxation.” 

(Given Mr. Papalia’s other strange statements, we shouldn’t be surprised he intentionally reverses this important Revolutionary War quote.) Sierra Club members make up almost 10 percent of Albany voters. Several hundred of our Albany members have expressed support for protecting the waterfront. Dozens have volunteered or contributed money specifically for the Albany shoreline campaign. 

Voters should be very careful about any candidate who would silence—or “not represent”—any legitimate organization. Think about it: the National Organization for Women, Move-On, political parties—even churches—all are organizations that don’t pay taxes in Albany. Who else would Mr. Papalia “not represent”? 

Mike Daley 

Conservation Director 

Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the Albany City Council election, I’m voting for O’Keefe and Papalia and urging my fellow citizens to do the same. Here’s why: 

1. O’Keefe and Paplia realize that there is more to Albany than the shoreline. There are schools, sewers, roads, streetlights, public safety issues, and city services, too. Starving the city to feed a pie-in-the-sky fantasy is short-sighted and foolish. 

2. Opponents Wile and Atkinson favored the Sierra Club initiative that would have stolen decision-marking power from the citizens and put it in a self-selected cabal of outside zealots. 

3. Wile and Atkinson and their supporters lie when the say O’Keefe and Papalia are pro-Caruso. O’Keefe and Papalia are pro process, pro analysis, and pro Albany. Acceptance of Caruso’s proposal was not a foregone conclusion by any means, and it is false to claim that anyone who wanted to see it in more detail was in favor of it. 

4. Wile and Atkinson haven’t offered a plan they know will work, and since this is their only issue, a vote for them is a vote for nothing at all. 

5. Re the lawsuit filed against O’Keefe. A cheap shot, worthy of Karl Rove and done—with ironic chutzpah!—to benefit Wile and Atkinson  

6. I smell religiosity in the Sierra Club/Wile/Atkinson approach. They’ve made the shoreline into a moral crusade worthy of any fundamentalist who insists true believers either check their brains at the door or burn in hell for asking questions and demanding that analysis and reason lead the way. 

Albany, don’t be fooled. Turn the ideologues back and keep the citizens in charge. 

Peter Goodman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sure we can vote for the people who are spending all that money on fancy campaign literature. There is a “Vote For George Beier” sign on almost every lawn in District 7. And they are really nice signs too. Bates, Wazniak and Wilson also have really great signs, slogans and hit pieces. Why not? They have a product to sell: Big Box Berkeley. And they really really really want us to buy it! 

But what product is Worthington, Bronstein, Spring and Overman trying to sell us? A view of the future where there is clean air, good schools, good streets, good sewers, peace and justice, affordable housing, public safety and fiscal accountability.  

What if all the things that David M. Walker, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said recently are true? “The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it.” What if he is right—and the head of the GAO has no reason to spread lies. What if our economic world IS about to fall apart? Who do you want guiding Berkeley if there is economic uncertainty ahead? A coalition of big-box developers and their cheering section? I think not. 

What if all these rumors about various Iraq-gates and Page-gates and Abramoff-gates and 9-11-gates are true? Who do you want to be giving Berkeley a voice against the corruption in Washington? Big Box developers concerned with doing away with our landmarks? Or progressives who will continue to help Berkeley be a light to the world? Vote for Worthington, Bronstein, Spring and Overman. Only they are prepared to help us change the future and help make it safe.  

What if a recently-released 700-page global warming report commissioned by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer is true and if we don’t act now only 200 million people will be left standing once the polar ice caps melt? Who do you want leading Berkeley and getting us ready for this coming time of crisis? Worthington, Bronstein, Spring and Overman! They are honest people with vision. 

Jane Stillwater 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For decades Berkeley has had a City Council sharply riven by rent control, development, West Berkeley industry and downtown parking. But the division between those who say what they mean and those who have to take time to figure out what they want to appear to mean (the latter forming a distinct majority on this Council) is the one that always interests me most. 

Laurie Capitelli often tantalizingly joins the minority, and I wish he’d do it more often. His careful quote in Friday’s Planet, that the Chamber of Commerce Measure J Landmarks mailing shows “it’s unfortunate we live in this world of 30-second sound bites and 10-word messages on post cards,” takes a typically halfway tone for him: he recognizes dishonest literature and wishes his name wasn’t affixed to it, but he won’t risk offending the people who put his name there. If Councilmember Capitelli really wants to do good by both his reputation and his constituency, he either wouldn’t let his name be associated with statements he knows aren’t true, or would repudiate it if he wasn’t properly contacted before his name was used. The same goes for everyone listed on that shameful piece. 

Dave Blake 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I will be voting for David Baggins because he is a candidate who strongly feels, like many other parents in BUSD, that the district needs to tighten the process for proving residency. All of my son’s sophomore classes at BHS have more than the Measure A goal of 28 students per class. How can we maintain reasonable class sizes if we continue to admit students without a “fixed Berkeley address.” I agree with Becky O’Malley that there is “absolutely no credible data” to support this discussion. That’s because BUSD’s current policy only counts the honest families who apply for an inter-district permit. 

As I talk to parents at various functions who live outside of the district and drop my kids off at friends’ homes outside of Berkeley I wonder how many students can BUSD effectively educate. Taxpayers and policy makers need to have accurate data to make informed decisions on how to allocate BUSD funds. 

Lorraine Mahley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

So, is George Beier running against AC Transit? You might think so, based on the misleading campaign flyer that recently arrived in District 7 mailboxes. While George never uses the words “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT), that’s what he’s talking about when he falsely claims that bus-only lanes on Telegraph will lead to more traffic. Beier says BRT will cause gridlock on Telegraph. How does he know this? AC Transit says that, based on their analysis, BRT will reduce traffic overall and won’t cause major problems to traffic flow on Telegraph. There will still be turning lanes at intersections and will be room for both cars and buses. 

AC Transit will soon be releasing their BRT EIR, complete with a detailed traffic analysis, soon. Please, George, read that. It makes sense that BRT will reduce traffic. Dedicated lanes will allow buses to move faster and not get stuck in traffic; it will help them stay on schedule. Faster, more reliable service will attract new riders from among those who currently drive. That’s what happened in Los Angeles with their new BRT line; the faster service attracted people who had formerly driven to work. 

So with BRT, traffic will decrease. As a result, less pollutants, including greenhouse gases will make it into the air. Is Beier not concerned about global warming? We know that in California, cars and trucks are the single biggest source of the emissions that cause global warming. Don’t we want to encourage people to use transit? Don’t we want our council members to work with AC Transit to improve transit? And what about District 7 residents? BRT is not only good for people commuting to Berkeley. District 7 has more transit-dependent residents than any other part of the city. Students make up more than half the residents and a sizeable majority of them don’t own cars or, at least, don’t bring them with them when they live in the dorms and apartment buildings. Should these students have to put up with slow, unreliable bus service? 

Based on the latest campaign filings, Beier’s Council campaign has spent more than any other City Council campaign in Berkeley history. He has spent about 50 percent more than incumbent mayor Tom Bates—and Bates is running citywide in all eight districts. It’s a shame that Beier is spending his campaign money on misleading flyers about crime and transit. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce PAC, which is headed up by a Republican, is putting out disgusting hit pieces trashing Kriss Worthington, Beier’s opponent. Like Beier’s own campaign materials, these flyers are full of statements that just aren’t true. Beware of last minute negative campaigning. Talk is cheap; look at each candidate’s record. What has Beier actually ever done besides putting out misleading campaign literature that would make him a good choice for council? 

Claire Risley 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ward Street Neighbors are so concerned that Kriss Worthington be re-elected, even though he is not our direct council representative. Kriss’s district has always been fortunate to have a full time, true representative on the City Council—Kriss puts his districts’s interests above all else. However, he’s been very smart to identify issues in South Berkeley that affect the whole area. Case in point right now, Kriss has supported So. Berkeley neighbors who refuse the invasion of 18 cell phone antennas in the middle of the LeConte/Adeline neighborhood. (This project is a potential model for cell phone invasions in other Berkeley nighborhoods) His opponent, George Beier was on the ZAB and voted in favor or this ridiculous and dangerous cell phone installation, even though it was a groundless application based on corporate greed rather than common sense. Talk is cheap and Votes Count—so whatever Beier says now about what he will do for District 7—he votes with big developers (Patrick Kennedy, Nextel and Verizon) and he agreed that “yes, this is not a neighborhood.” So much for neighborhood interests. Kriss puts citizens and neighborhoods first, against the insane cell phone invasion which is backed by the City of Berkeley against neighborhood interests and he did the same in bringing the Berkeley Bowl to the old Safeway site.  

Dona Spring is another great city councilmember who stands with neighbors in critical issues accross the city. She is also up against a ZAB member, Raudell Wilson, who voted for the cell phone invasion, saying we “are not a neighborhood.” If these candidates are willing to so blatantly and cavalierly vote against citizens’ rights, with no due process, why would we elevate them to City Council? The Berkeley City government is already routinely operating against neighborhood interests. Opponents try to blame Kriss and Dona for the deterioration of Telegraph and downtown, when they are up against a city-wide trend that has Berkeley city staff working full blast for developers—against voters and citizens. Make your vote count—re-elect Kriss Worthington and Dona Spring and vote for neighborhood rights and democracy.  

Ward Street Neighbors  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bus-only lanes have become a political football. The planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is supposed to reduce the car traffic on Telegraph, but we hear fear that a bus-only lane for the BRT will generate gridlock and spill traffic onto side streets. During the recent District 7 debate at the City Club, a representative of the Telegraph merchants wanted both candidates to solemnly swear they’d never allow a bus-only lane. 

District 7 Council candidate George Beier just sent out a mailer in which he claims that the BRT will cause gridlock on Telegraph. Beier has long been opposed to making a traffic lane into a bus-only lane. Beier’s mailer offers no facts to back up his claim of gridlock. AC Transit’s Jim Cunradi, who manages the BRT project, says that no BRT system anywhere has caused gridlock. Cunradi has documentation for numerous BRT examples. Beier should read some of this stuff. A bus-only lane makes bus trips faster than car trips, so that a substantial number of people will choose to commute by bus instead of clogging Telegraph with their cars. If a BRT is properly deployed, there are actually fewer cars on the road. People like Beier seem to think that nobody would ride a bus to work in progressive Berkeley, but would rather contribute to gridlock, air pollution and global warming. AC Transit will soon release the environmental impact report (EIR) on the BRT. Perhaps this will clear up the confusion generated by the politics. I hope Beier reads the EIR. 

The anti-bus hysteria has also fixated on fear of a “Transit mall” which supposedly would create a bus-only zone on Telegraph, north of Dwight. Cars would not be allowed north of Dwight. I don’t think there are any plans for a “transit mall,” beyond the existing group of bus stops on Bancroft at the end of Telegraph, but there are definitely proposals for a bus-only lane on Telegraph, perhaps only during the commute hours. 

AC Transit hasn’t decided whether a bus-only lane on Telegraph is needed for the BRT project. The EIR will include a traffic analysis. I wish we could read it now, instead of Beier’s uninformed hysteria. Berkeley is supposed to have pledged to do something effective about air pollution and global warming. Are we going to have leadership, or will our politicians purvey hysteria?  

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

George Beier recently sent out a campaign mailer that attacks AC Transit’s proposal to improve bus service on Telegraph Ave via implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). His brochure presents a distorted picture of BRT, contains statements that are clearly false—especially his assertion that it will mean “more traffic.” 

Beier says that BRT’s dedicated lanes will “cause gridlock on Telegraph and route cars through Bateman and Willard”. This is simply untrue. What is the source for this misinformation? In tiny print at the bottom of the mailer, it says: “check the facts” and then refers people to an article in the Daily Planet from Jan. 30, 2004. Does this article from 2004 report on the results of a traffic study or provide some other evidence that BRT will cause “gridlock”? It does not. The vast majority of people who receive Beier’s misleading mailer will not check this alleged source. You can check it out yourself on the Daily Planet’s website. Beier’s mailer also states, again with no evidence, that BRT “would send thousands of cars through LeConte [neighborhood west of Telegraph].” 

The details of how BRT will impact traffic in Berkeley will be revealed as soon as AC Transit releases its environmental impact report, which is expected by the end of the year. The EIR will contain a detailed traffic analysis and will show intersection by intersection what the impacts of BRT will be.  

But rather than waiting for the facts, Beier has decided to engage in fear-mongering. Do District 7 residents want to be represented by someone who tries to scare them with unsubstantiated assertions? Do they want a councilmember who makes decisions without carefully evaluating the real facts? 

Bus Rapid Transit will reduce traffic along the Telegraph corridor. BRT will reduce bus travel time and improve reliability of service, and, by doing so, will attract new riders who currently drive. One of the primary reasons that people give for choosing to drive instead of using public transit is that buses take too long and often don’t stay on schedule. A well-designed BRT system will simplify boarding for disabled passengers. 

AC Transit is estimating that ridership will increase by 30-40 percent. This will mean a reduction of trips by automobile and a reduction in global warming emissions. The more people who decide to switch to transit as a result of improved service, the more traffic along Telegraph will be reduced. 

Beier, in his campaign, is not talking about local initiatives to address global warming or about sustainable development. In California, the transportation sector is responsible for over 40 percent of global warming emissions. Instead of working to improve transit and reduce emissions, Beier is making assertions that have no factual basis and seems to be trying to get elected by bashing AC Transit. Beier also falsely implies that a transit mall on Telegraph between Dwight and Bancroft is the only option for that segment of the proposed BRT route. In fact, it’s only one of the options being considered and evaluated in the EIR. AC Transit and the city may opt to leave those blocks as they are. Policy-making should be based on a careful evaluation of the best available information. Let’s wait for the traffic analysis to be released instead of rushing to judgement.  

Len Conly 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The entire Bay Area is watching the runoff in District 2 in Oakland between incumbent Pat Kernighan and the audacious challenger, Aimee Allison. Pat Kernighan is an experienced politician. She knows the ins and outs of City Hall, but her failure to deal effectively with violent crime in Oakland may bring about her defeat Nov. 7. 

Some months ago, Kernighan and the Oakland City Council had an excellent opportunity to make a practical difference in fighting crime, a chance to declare a state of emergency. The proposal would have enabled Oakland’s police chief to post patrols at peak hours of crime. With her ally, Ignacio De La Fuente, Kernighan voted down the bill—at the expense of public safety. Many dozens of citizens have been murdered since she refused to declare a state of emergency in Oakland.  

Of course many decent public servants are overwhelmed by crime waves in American cities. But it is upsetting to hear Kernighan credit herself for being smart and tough on crime. The Chamber of Commerce, from which she receives contributions, erected a glass-enclosed poster on her behalf in the Grand Lake area. The poster (standing next to rows of autos with “clubs” and car alarms) read: “Thank you, Pat, for helping to make our community safe.”  

No incumbent should have bragging rights on the issue of violent crime in Oakland. Drive-by shootings, acts of vengeance, drug wars, gang violence, car-jackings are a regular feature of nightlife in Oakland.  

Kernighan often says she is a practical leader who gets results. But when she is confronted with the ugly results of her City Council policy, she says crime “is a societal issue.” She becomes metaphysical, not pragmatic. 

The security of life and limb is the first test of government, and Kernighan, Brown, De La Fuente have all failed the test. Oakland has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation, triple the national average. In a matter of months, 120 citizens have been killed. 

Kernighan says she “has experience at city hall.” She does. It’s an experience of failure. 

In contrast to Kernighan, Aimee Allison’s plan to end violence is multifaceted. For effective policing, Allison says, the Oakland Police Officers Contract needs to be revised, giving the Police Chief more power to get officers on the streets for community policing. Allison wants to create peacekeeping teams that know the streets, stopping retaliation that feeds on the violence epidemic. She is planning re-entry internships and job training programs to reintegrate parolees and probationers with accessible housing, job training, drug rehabilitation and medical care. She wants to fully fund a city jobs program for graduates of Oakland’s high schools. And she wants to expand recreation, sports and cultural programs—proven crime deterrents for young people. 

As Allison says: “A better world begins in Oakland.” 

Paul Rockwell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The only conclusion I can draw from the hit piece distributed by the Berkeley Business Group, a report card on crime and business and prostitutes, is that since the seven members of the council—including the mayor and Councilmember Wozniak—who were given the highest ratings and since this part of the political spectrum thinks that crime is rampant and business is dismal, one can only conclude that they support a new and more effective council and mayor. Hence since with such a majority and such a dismal record we agree that we should support a change. 

And since the report card on Kriss Worthington is so far from any conceivable reality—we are all waiting for George Beier to repudiate it. After all, he has said he is running a clean campaign.  

Paul Rabinow 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On the one hand I feel that Lisa Robin’s letter in your Oct. 27 edition is so ridiculous it barely merits the effort of a response. Yet on the other hand, as I’m a firm believer that silence can—and many times does—indicate approval, I feel compelled to respond.  

Ms. Robin, the City of Berkeley has not “denounced” organizations like the Sea Scouts, it simply has refused to subsidize the berth of an exclusionary organization whose values clash with those of the city. You ask when citizens of Berkeley will elect people who “truly represent the citizens of the City of Berkeley” I’m happy to tell you, they have been electing such people, in elections every two years for the last 40 years that you have lived here. Perhaps if you were to get out of your sheltered, 1950s era mentality, you’d see that. 

While you call Berkley a “hateful city,” and then characterize organizations “bent on homosexuality”—which affirm life and love in it’s many forms—as valuing, “sickness and death,” we as a community must ask ourselves who’s really being hateful here. 

Michael Moniz  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In researching the organization that seems to be spearheading the campaign against the Measure A extension of the existing school parcel tax I’m beginning to wonder what the Northeast Berkeley Assoc. (NEBA) is?  

Looking at the Berkeley City web site for neighborhood organizations, I see about 50 listed, only two of which have no link to a web page or any other information about them. One of these is NEBA. In their latest newsletter there is no phone number listed, no e-mail or website, and no address other than a P.O. Box. While there is a “candidates night” listed there seem to be no regularly scheduled business meetings, monthly or otherwise. As a past and current member (although I have never received any receipts for my membership ‘dues’), I have never been asked to vote on issues that the supposed board decides, including on Measure A. 

Could this be a ‘shell’ group for some outside anti-tax organization with no real investment in Berkeley’s kids? Which sees any and all taxes as bad, regardless of the cost to society? 

Where and what is NEBA? 

C.A. Gilbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the “People’s Park is a Sewer” letter: First of all, the problem with peoples park is that it is not maintained properly as a city park nor is it seen as a city park. It either needs to be maintained and made more attractive so many residents can enjoy it or torn down. The latter appears to be a big problem as everytime an attempt is made to tear it down a riot ensues. The last time a riot ensued I noticed that most of the protesters were too young to remember what the park represented in the first place. (Not the so called old pony tailed hippies mentioned in the letter). 

Downtown San Jose’s Saint James park was similarly neglected by the city of San Jose but was eventually taken charge of. It now sports a nice tot lot and attractive park benches etc and is enjoyed by the surounding residents and office people. Yes, it still has some homeless but it is not taken over by them anymore.  

Sherri Adams 

San Jose 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The opponents of Measure A generally seem to agree on the real need for the parcel tax for our schools; they simply want it rewritten to incorporate their own individual specific concerns and priorities. Some would like a shorter term, or more particular allocation of funds, or better oversight; others want more public input; while still others want to address the warm water pool or perhaps cold water neighborhood pools.  

Since most everyone favors the measure for our schools, the only question is, could Measure A reasonably and practically be rewritten to incorporate all these divergent special interests, and could we or should we hold a special election for a newly rewritten measure at a cost of something like $400,000? 

The answer to both questions is no.  

The county Office of Education is on record as saying: “If the renewal (measure A) is not successful, we [the county] will be required to immediately intervene and to take appropriate action, including declaring a ‘lack of going concern’ under Education Code Section 42127.6.” The real consequences of this required county action are unclear, but they could include not allowing $400,000 dollars to be spent on a special election with no guarantee that the outcome would be any better. 

And even if such an election were to be held, we run into exactly the same problem. The measure could never be written to address everyone’s problems with the current measure, and even if it could be, the rewritten measure would likely be worse than the one we are now looking at. (The pork barrel is just not large enough.) 

The opponents of Measure A are not so much against Measure A as they are interested in their own very specific agendas. Their opposition to Measure A is a kind of blackmail, and since Measure A represents about 25% of the total school budget, it is a very powerful kind of blackmail. Our schools just cannot function adequately without these funds. We all need to support Measure A as it is, and not let the education of our children be held hostage to special interests. 

Chuck Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Oct. 15 my black cloth shoulder bag was taken from the bus stop at Russell Street and College Avenue. The bag contains my personal medication and some very vital personal items which I am in desperate need of. If you find this bag, please call the Planet at 841-5600. Thank you. 

Edward Joseph 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have lived in Albany for almost 40 years. I have never seen the city so divided. I believe the current owner of Golden Gate Fields, Magna Entertainment (MEC) and Caruso caused the divisiveness. They are afraid to take the traditional development approval process in Albany (such as the new Target Store). The documents they must file with the city would have doomed their project. They never filed an application. 

They were trying to promote a mall. However, I believe they were using the mall as a Trojan horse to bring casino gambling to Albany. Before voting I ask every Albany voter to go directly to MEC’s own web site (, click on the Investors link, and at the bottom of the page, click on Annual Report. Read or print pages 6 and 10 of the 2005 Report where you will find MEC’s business strategy and their specific plans for Albany. 

Their strategy is to convert their racetracks into world-class destination resorts called a “racino.” A racino combines six elements: live racing, a 1,500-slot-machine-casino, a retail mall, an entertainment center, a hotel, and housing. Their prototype racino is in Gulfstream, Florida. In the next paragraph, they explicitly name their next two target sites: Santa Anita and GGF in Albany for similar mixed-use developments. Caruso’s initially brought five racino elements to his Albany coffees. No wonder they did want an open, full disclosure process with public hearings, government input, etc. like